The Space Craze
After watching the recent movie 'Interstellar,' I started surfing the net to gather more information if interstellar travel will indeed be possible some day. The following news clippings caught my attention and then got me wondering.
"The world's first space tourist and multimillionaire Dennis Tito is financing a project to get space tourists to Mars by early 2018. Tito, who spent $20 million on his space trip in 2001, is so anxious to get to the red planet, he's pumping hundreds of millions of his own money into the project, because he's doesn't want to wait till NASA or Roskosmos will offer such space trips to just any rich tourists. The return trip to Mars should take about 501 days and is expected to cost over $100 million per space tourist. "Expensive, I know, but we already have a list of customers who are willing to pay this price for this once in a lifetime experience", said Tito."
"It's official - British singer Sarah Brightman secured herself a space trip in 2015. Brightman paid over $20 million for this "space ticket" which will allow her to spend three weeks at the International Space Station - which works out to about $1 mil a day. In an interview, Brightman said she always dreamed about space travel, and finally decided to buy herself the most expensive vacation she could think of. The world-famous classical vocalist will spend two years training for this space mission. She also started learning Russian, to communicate with the Russian crew who will take her to the ISS and back. "I wish some alien would kidnap me," Brightman said."
"Iran successfully sent a monkey into space and it returned back alive and safe. This is an important step in the Iranian space exploration program, says Iranian Defence Minister Ahmad Vahidi. "There's still a long way to go till we send man into space, but today we became one step closer to this", adds Vahidi. Iranian television showed still pictures of the monkey in a capsule after it landed. Previously, Iran successfully sent several small animals into space, but the previous attempt to send a monkey into space failed in 2011."
So is interstellar travel really possible if today they are actually planning on interplanetary holidays? But what do these potential tourists survive on? Will it be those protein pills that are often popped by the astronauts to keep hunger at bay and remain healthy? Or else will it be those blow-dried pastas and noodles that need some water to be converted into tasteless rubbish that can be passed off as gourmet delights? Why not offer them a five-course meal, prepared fresh with chicken or pigs slaughtered on board and supervised by the famed Michelin chefs from around the world? Well, for that chicken, pigs and whole cows need to be transported into outer space as well.
Is It Really Possible?
The American space agency NASA has been studying the possibilities of interstellar travel for some time now. They have quite a few ongoing planned missions to study the cosmos for the existence of Earth-like planets outside our solar system that can sustain life. Towards that end, the Kepler Space Telescope was launched by NASA in 2009. It is located at about 64 million miles above the Earth. It has proved that every star in outer space has at least one planet rotating around it, and has helped discover thousands of alien worlds. The telescope is non-functional since 2013 after equipment malfunction, and NASA is planning to launch another more powerful telescope in 2017 and has named it TESS, or Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite.
The nearest planet in a different solar system is the Alpha Centauri Bb that is at a distance of 4.3 light years away. Spacecraft using chemical rockets cannot sustain that distance. Thus, even if we design a system that can travel faster than the speed of light, it will still take more than four years to reach the nearest interstellar planet. Space scientists until now have only managed to send the spacecraft Voyager 1 outside the solar system. It was launched in 1977 and entered outer interstellar space in 2012. At the speed at which it is traveling, the spacecraft will not come anywhere near any interstellar planet in the next 40,000 years.according to NASA.
Some scientists are researching space-bending warp drives on interstellar travel, while others are thinking about giant solar sails and nuclear fusion drives. However, most scientists doubt that interstellar travel is possible at all since breaking the speed of light is difficult if not impossible. At the same time, if a future advanced civilization can break the barrier of space and time through sufficient energy then interstellar travel may be possible.
However, Les Johnson, deputy manager at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. thinks the first manned interstellar flight to be hundreds of years away. He said "I think before we ever really undertake sending something to another star, we will probably have to be masters of our own solar system."
So What About Yorkshire Pudding And Shepherd's Pie At Mars?
So I am in outer space on a $20 million holiday, $ 5 billion if interstellar, looking down on earth as it gets smaller from the size of my fist to a peanut and then a dot. I slumber off in peace thinking I am far away from ISIS, Taliban, Mujahideen and the New York cops. After some hours, if there are hours there, I wake up absolutely refreshed from the best sleep I have ever had since I was a suckling child. I have a glorious hunger that growls, and press the button for breakfast to be served. Of course, prior to that I wanted to brush my teeth, wanted to pee and then the larger one, but a computerized voice monitoring my innards told me to do everything within the suit itself. I did that, not knowing whether my refuse would be recycled for my next meal or drink. Anyway, I so look forward to that crispy toast with butter and jam, bacon, sausages and two eggs boiled exactly for three minutes each, along with a steaming cup of the best Brazilian coffee. I extend my arm confined within a suit that makes movement impossible, and out comes a pill from a hole within the wall with an electronic voice telling me to pop it or else stay hungry.
Well, what is for lunch then, I deliberate with myself. It is after all my $20 million holiday to Mars and I so look forward to my pie served with a chilled glass of Tuborg for lunch. But then, you never know these computer programs that have been trained not to understand emotion, or hunger as in my case. I cut short my craving and look out through another hole in the wall at virtually nothing, only darkness all around, encased within a suit that perhaps still contains my refuse. And I was planning on a $5 billion holiday next decade to travel to Alpha Centauri Bb!! That will have to wait until they serve warm hamburgers and hot dogs on board.